The New York City Board of Health has declared racism a public health crisis and issued guidelines to achieve a more “racially just” recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. David A. Chokshi, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said on Twitter, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed stunning inequalities hidden by everyday life.
“To build a healthier New York City, we must confront racism as a public health crisis,” the board’s chair, Chokshi, said in a statement. “The Covid-19 pandemic magnified inequalities, leading to suffering disproportionately borne by communities of color in our City and across the nation.”
As part of the declaration, the board has offered recommendations for the Health Department to follow, including reviewing how its policies have contributed to racial health inequalities and forming a “data for equity” group to ensure the department interprets health data through an anti-racism perspective.
Other recommendations include working with agencies to report health conditions and deaths by race and issuing a report to the board twice a year. The Board of Health, which oversees the health code enforced by the health department, declared racism a public health crisis last June amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
The coronavirus pandemic exposed inequalities in health, telecommuting, and access to transportation. Many Black Americans had to continue commuting to work due to an inability to telecommute. When they were infected, many Black Americans did not have quality health insurance due to their employment.
The American Public Health Association reported between 2019 and last October, 70 cities, more than 30 counties, and three states have declared racism a public health crisis.
Different cities have used the declaration for several reasons. According to NBC News, Kansas City, Missouri, and Indianapolis, Indiana, have used it to determine how to distribute public funding. Meanwhile, Minnesota has passed a resolution promising to “actively participate in the dismantling of racism.”